§ Mr. Fowell Buxton
rose, and said, he felt the greatest mortification, in common with all other friends to emancipation, in finding this Bill neither a safe nor a satisfactory measure. Important changes had been made in it since it had been first in troduced to Parliament, but he was sorry to say, that these changes tended all to the benefit of the planter, and the detriment of the slaves. He could never forget the eloquent speech which he had heard from the right hon. Secretary on introducing this measure, of which one of the principal objects was, to show that it would be folly to 1185 leave any part of this matter to be taken up by the Colonial Legislatures. He had made some extracts from the speech, and as they were more forcible and eloquent than anything he himself could say, he would read them to the House. [The hon. Member accordingly quoted several passages of the right hon. Secretary's speech on May 14th—for which sec the "Debates," vol. 17, third series, pp. 1198, 1199, 1201, 1202, and 1206. They all bore on the two circumstances that the Colonial Legislatures had done nothing to gratify the wishes of the Parliament, and were not to be trusted in carrying its wishes in future into effect.] Such, continued the hon. Member, was the language which the right hon. Gentleman used, and after that language, it was with the greatest surprise that he had read the contents of this Bill; for he found one clause whereby twenty-nine articles, such as the food, clothing, lodging, maintenance, and regulations of the slaves, were all assigned over to the decision of the Colonial Legislatures. He also found another clause, whereby it was left to the Colonial Legislatures to make laws necessary to establish such regulations without any restriction whatsoever. The House would find that clause at page 10 of the Bill; it was in the following terms: "And whereas such regulations as aforesaid could not without great inconvenience be made, except by the respective Governors, Councils, and Assemblies, or other Local Legislatures of the said respective colonies, or by his Majesty, with the advice of his Privy Council, in reference to those colonies to which the legislative authority of his Majesty in Council extends; be it therefore enacted and declared, that nothing in this Act contained extends, or shall be construed to extend, to prevent the enactment by the respective Governors, Councils, and Assemblies, or by such other Local Legislatures as aforesaid, or by his Majesty, with the advice of his Privy Council, of any such Acts of General Assembly, or Ordinances, or Orders in Council, as may be requisite for making and establishing such several rules and regulations as aforesaid, or any of them, or for carrying the same or any of them into full and complete effect." That provision, he contended, gave into the hands of the Colonial Legislatures a complete control over all the details of the measure. In many, and some of them most material, respects, the interests of the negroes had suffered most essentially. But let the House look at the manner in which 1186 the interests of the planters had also been advanced in the meantime. His Majesty's Government had been endeavouring he believed, for the last twelve months to discover the real value of West-India property. The Ministers had told the House in April last, that they had for some time been so employed, and it was not many days since the right hon. Secretary had informed the House, that the result of their inquiries was, that a loan of 15,000,000l. would be a full and equitable relief to the planters. Since that time the loan of 15,000,000l. had been converted, first into a gift of 15,000,000l. and afterwards into a gift of 20,000,000l. The effect of this was, that a very great advantage had been conferred upon the West-India interest. Debts which were considered bad debtsin April last, were considered good debts now. Individuals who were bankrupts in April, were now solvent; and he looked upon this measure as one of the greatest, and as one of the luckiest windfalls that by any possibility could have befallen the West-India interest. Let the House merely reflect upon what the West-India proprietors had been doing for the last forty years. Had they not been protesting, over and over again, that they got nothing from their property? Recently they had declared, that they were in a worse state than ever. Now, mark what happened. The popular cry became louder and louder against the abominations of slavery; a Government came in, which was considered, he would not say hostile to the West-India interest, but hostile to slavery; and then, to the surprise of all the world, the planters ran away with 20,000,000l. of English money as the supposed value of that part of their property which they gave up in their slaves. In getting that sum he maintained that the planters had got not only a full but an enormous compensation. He was ready, and so he was sure were the people of England, to give the planters 20,000,000l. as a compensation, provided that the slaves received complete emancipation in return. But he would tell the country distinctly, that if this plan of apprenticing the slaves was persisted in, the planters would get much more than in common justice they were entitled to receive. He wished the Committee to recollect the value at which the planters had estimated their property a few years ago, when they came to that House as petitioners for relief. He could assure the Committee that it was low enough. Last year, as every body knew, a Select Committee sat to investigate into 1187 the value of property in our West-Indian colonies. Before that Committee there appeared as a witness a Mr. John Innes, a most respectable gentleman no doubt. Mr. Innes was asked, "How much does it cost to rear a young negro to the age of fourteen years?" His reply was precise. He said that it cost the exact sum of 226l. 14s. 10d. Not only did Mr. Innes say that, but he said further, that he had taken great pains to investigate that subject—that he had submitted his data to the consideration of several planters, who were practical men, and that they had not been able to detect any error in his calculations. He wished the Committee, now it was put in possession of the fact, that the cost of rearing a young negro was just 226l. 14s. 10d., to recollect that it also appeared in the same evidence that 10 cwt. of sugar was the quantity raised by each negro. Now, he wanted to know what sum the planters made by each cwt, and to obtain that knowledge he had gone to the evidence of Mr. K. Douglas and another gentleman; and he found that they said, that they got only 6d. by each cwt. He was aware that there was another party who said that they lost 6d. by each cwt.; but he would not stand upon trifles, and therefore, he would take it for granted, that they did make (id. per cwt. Now, at this rate, each negro made for the planter 5s. a-year. "It cost the planter," said Mr. Innes, 226l. 14s. 10d., to rear the negro," and for all this outlay of money and trouble, they called upon us to believe that they only got 5s. a-year; why, you might go to any insurance office and buy—nay, you might buy of the Government itself—that sum on the life of a negro for 67.; and yet the planters said, that it cost them 226l. 14s. 10d. "But," said the planters, "only one slave out of three whom we rear, becomes effective." If that were so, then the cost of rearing a slave was three times 226l. 14s. 10d., or 680l. 4s. 6d. Then the planters brought forward the governor of one of the islands, Sir John Keene, who told the Committee, that an English labourer would get as much as ten slaves; so that an English labourer was worth ten slaves, or somewhere about 6,800l. Now, if there was to be any confidence placed in the statements and calculations of these West-India proprietors, the Committee must come to this conclusion—that; it costs so much to rear a negro—that the negro when reared was so perishable an article—and that it was also so expensive a matter to make him 1188 work, that nothing which the House could do, could render West-India property a profitable investment for a long period of time. He did not grudge to the West-India proprietors this gift of 20,000,000l.; on the contrary, he said to them as a friend, "Take it, whilst it is yet near you; take it now, whilst you can get it—for if you do not, you will not have the slightest chance of getting it in another year; nor will you now have the apprenticeship and the 20,000,000l. together." He knew what the feelings of one part of the public were. They were looking with anxiety to the decision of that night—they were willing, if complete emancipation were granted, to pay 20,000,000l. for it; but if the planters insisted upon this apprenticeship, then they would not allow the planters the chance of getting any such enormous sum. With regard to the question of apprenticeship, he knew his own incompetence to argue with the ability and eloquence of the right hon. Secretary; but if he knew anything at all of common sense, this was one of its plainest dictates—that the world only knew of two modes of obtaining human labour—hope and fear—the inducement of reward and the compulsion of want. He would willingly abandon all his doctrines upon this subject, if any gentleman would only point out to him any community which had ever laboured assiduously, except under one or other of these two motives. He complained that in this Bill you gave the slave neither hope nor wages. He had proposed that the planter should give him wages, but that proposition had been rejected. As the Bill now stood, the slaves were to work for seven hours and a-half in each day without wages. He would not enter into the question of the abstract right of each man to the labour of his own body—he would not say, that the slave had a positive right to his own labour. The right hon. Secretary, however, said, that the slave was to work for twelve years as an apprentice to his master, without receiving any wages. He considered such a provision to be a gross invasion of equity, and a direct robbery of the negro. There must be a motive to influence man to labour; but there was neither hope nor fear left to the unprotected negro; and yet it appeared, that we were absurd enough to entertain the idea that the negro, whom we always represented as idle and lazy, would be induced to work without having either hope or fear to support him through his toils. One of the witnesses—a Scotchman, he believed—had 1189 vapoured a good deal about the idleness of the negro, and the industry of the Scots. Upon that he had taken the opportunity to ask him this question:—" Did you ever know au intelligent Scotchman who could be induced to work without wages?" He replied, that he had never been so fortunate as to meet with such a Scotchman, so that the argument of the other side came at last to this—that if it were a fault to be reluctant to work without remuneration, it was a fault that attached to our northern neighbours as well as to the negroes; and that if the negroes were to be made slaves in consequence of that fault, he should deduce from it that all Scotchmen must be slaves too. But the doctrine was too absurd to be seriously entertained for a moment, for the fact was, that you could not get any man of common sense to give away his exertions, without reward. He believed, that the first effect of this measure would be a total suspension of all labour in the West-India colonies, not because the negroes were unlike the rest of mankind, and would not work but because they were like them, and would not work without an adequate motive. But he would ask the Committee to consider whether the people of England, who looked to the advancement of the moral as well as the physical condition of the slave, would be willing to pay the enormous sum of 20,000,000l. to create so long a period of idleness? He had no doubt, that the right hon. Secretary would say, that the negro, if he refused to work, would be under the control of the Magistrate, and would thus be liable to the old system of force. If such were the case, then he would undertake to affirm that greater force would be needed than ever. Now, the instrument of torture was kept in sight in the field, and the negro worked under the influence of the lash; but, under the proposed alteration of system, the offending negro, before he could be punished, must be taken before a magistrate. You must institute a species of judicial proceeding against him, and thus, by your delay, you would rob the whip of half its terrors, and be compelled to make them up by increased severity of punishment. The planters said, that there had been no cruelty—he did not say that there had been cruelty—he had repeatedly admitted that there had not been; it was not. cruelty—it was necessity; for, as long-as slavery existed, you must have the whip. If it were placed at a distance, depend upon it, the Magistrate would be compelled to use it more powerfully. But he again 1190 asked, would the people of England consent to pay 20,000,000l. for such an object? Even that, however, would not be the worst that would happen. A recurrence to the old system of violence would as surely cause an insurrection of the blacks in Jamaica in 1834, as it had caused the insurrection in St. Domingo in 1794; for when their hopes of freedom and of wages were destroyed, he could not venture to entertain any further hopes of peace and tranquillity. He had had the opportunity of seeing several communications from the missionaries to their friends at home, and he had also had the opportunity of hearing the sentiments of many persons who had resided in Jamaica, and who were not friendly to his views, and they all agreed upon this point—that if you did not determine to do justice to the negro, and to pay them wages, and that forthwith, you would have an insurrection of the blacks in that colony. What, he would ask, was the main cause of the late insurrection in Jamaica? It was the determination of the negroes not to work without remuneration. He made this assertion on the authority of the confessions made by the generals of the negroes just before they were executed. One of them said, "I know that we are free; I read it in the English newspapers. I have taken an oath that I would not work after Christmas without satisfaction for my labour, and I will not do so." Another said, "That he had been advised by his comrades to say to his master, when he came to ask him to work, that he would not unless he got wages." Another said, "We will not rebel, but we will not work without satisfaction. We have worked long enough for buckra without wages, and we will not work for him so any longer." This was the case that he had to lay before the House; what he wanted was, that the time of the apprenticeship should be reduced to the shortest period, which might be necessary to establish on just principles the system of free labour for adequate wages. We had already tried in another part of our dominions, the experiment of emancipating 30,000 persons in the last four years, and no experiment could have answered better. We had emancipated the Hottentots at the Cape of Good Hope, and the result of their emancipation illustrated both the principles for which he was then contending. They had been in a state of bloodshed—they were now in a state of freedom; and Mr. Bar row, speaking of them, had observed, "that in their apprenticeship they were in a state 1191 of existence, to which that of slavery might bear a comparison of happiness." They were apprenticed at nominal wages. They were children under twenty-five years of age; they were flogged at their masters' will, and they laboured under a perpetual mortgage of their own bodies. There was, however, a higher authority at present in the country on that subject, and he said, "That these apprentices were in a much more degraded state than the slaves themselves; and that they were proverbially indolent and improvident." Captain Stock-enstrom strongly confirmed, and at greater length, this statement, for he said, "They were subject to the same coercion and punishment as slaves, but that they were not so well fed and clad; that they were exposed to dangers and privations, to which no master would expose his more valuable cattle—slaves." The idea of liberating the slaves was thought sane in comparison to that of freeing the Hottentots; but an order in council fortunately went out to that colony, which left nothing to the discretion of the local authorities but which was in itself imperative. There was a great outcry raised, but mark the result: though some temporary inconvenience was felt in consequence of immediately letting loose 30,000 persons in a state of the lowest degradation, he had it from the commander of the district, that in six months things had settled—that 25,000 out of 30,000 returned to their work—that they worked better than they had ever worked before—and that they all agreed that there was a great improvement in their condition. The other 5,000 went and settled on the Kat River. The Boors said, "You had better give the land to baboons," but the land now was a perfect garden. He believed that there was not anywhere a more industrious community in the British dominions; and the writer of a letter to him said, "I am at present in the midst of 4,000 Hottentots, as well fed, as well clothed, as active and industrious, and having as large a share of intelligence and piety, as could probably be found among as many Scotch peasants in any one place in our highly-favoured country. Now, this gentleman was a Scotchman himself, and, therefore, competent to give an opinion. In another letter, dated March 7, 1833, he said, "Oh this is Scotland in her best days." He also said, "What the Hottentots have done in the cultivation of lands in this country since 1829, astonishes their friends, and enrages those that think that Hottentots 1192 should never have been allowed to hold either cattle or land." Again he said, "The Kat River Settlement furnishes one of the most splendid illustrations of the absurdity of the all-hackneyed objections to the freedom of the slaves from the necessity of making them fit for freedom. There is no class of men upon earth more fit to be made free than those who have been all their lives in chains, and no people can use liberty better than the Hottentots have used theirs." He had a letter from another gentleman, corroborating all the statements which he had just read to the House. That gentleman was an officer in the army, and had informed him that these slaves not only entirely supported themselves, but also supplied the army with forage. From this statement he thought he was justified in inferring, that if the slaves in the West-Indies were emancipated, and encouraged to work for wages, it would not be found difficult to convert them into peaceful contented labourers: but that if wages were refused, the consequences would be unjust and injurious to the slave in the first instance, and dangerous to the planters in the second. In the full conviction that the Legislature could do nothing so good as to give full play to the natural feelings and motives of men, with regard to punishments and rewards, he should move, that it be an instruction to the Committee that they shall not, for the sake of the pecuniary interests of the masters, impose any restraint or obligation on the negro which shall not be necessary for his own welfare, and for the general peace and order of society; and that they shall limit the duration of any temporary restrictions which may be imposed upon the freedom of the negroes to the shortest period which may be necessary to establish, on just principles, the system of free labour for adequate wages.
§ The question was put from the Chair.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, that after the recent long and close discussion of this subject, unless the hon. Member had some views not explained—unless there were some preparation to be made, or the pulse of the House to be felt with a view to ulterior objects, he might have spared his present address, and rested upon the general decision to which the House had already come. He might, perhaps, save himself the trouble of making a long reply by referring to the fact, that the House had given its sanction to the principle of apprenticeship—that it formed part of the plan upon which the Committee was about to enter 1193 —that it was inconsistent for the House to adopt the principle, and then to give an instruction to the Committee which would defeat it; but he had no wish to shrink from the discussion, and should therefore meet the proposition openly and fairly. He had heard with surprise the charge that all the alterations had been made to the advantage of the planter and the detriment of the slave; for, when he first introduced the subject, the conditions imposed upon the slave were, that for seven and a-half hours in each day he should labour for the benefit of his master—that for the rest of the day he should indeed be free to work for himself, according to a scale of wages; but that the whole of those wages were not to be devoted to himself, or to his family, but held for the State, for twelve years, as the price of emancipation. The change that had been subsequently made, in this respect was clearly for the benefit of the negro. Was it to his detriment that a quarter of his time had been given to him for his own exclusive advantage? Was it to his detriment that he had not been called upon to pay a tax to the State. The hon. Member, therefore, was not treating the Government fairly, when he asserted that every alteration had benefited the planter and injured the negro. The hon. Member had argued, that all the alterations which had been made in the Bill since its first introduction had tended to benefit the planter, and not the negro. Was the alteration which had been made respecting the payment of the compensation money one of those particularly to which the hon. Member alluded? The money at first proposed to be paid was to be a grant to the planter, but to be repaid in twelve years from the produce of negro labour; but Parliament had since agreed to take upon themselves the whole cost of emancipation, and the negro was to be stimulated to exertion by enjoying the fruits of his own labour. Was this, then, an alteration which operated to the detriment of the negro? He would ask the hon. Gentleman, who had always stood forward so prominently in behalf of the negro—and no one more respected that hon. Gentleman's motives than he did—whether this was one of the alterations in the Bill which ought to be deprecated? The hon. Gentleman said there had been other alterations, not only in the details of the measure, but in the very principle upon which the Bill was founded. In the first place, he would deny, in strong terms, but not stronger than the occasion required, 1194 that Government intended to leave the abolition of slavery to the Colonial Legislatures. They were to leave to the local Assemblies the choice whether they would or would not take steps for abolishing slavery. Experience had shown that they would do nothing willingly to effect that purpose, as was evident from the small progress which had hitherto been made; so that he did think, that the time had arrived when the country had a right to expect, not the immediate extinction of slavery; for that the hon. Member himself never asked; for that he had allowed to be as ruinous to the slave as to the master; but the country had aright to expect, that they should take such steps as would lead, at no distant period, to the extinction of slavery. The hon. Member would find, that from the 1st of August, 1834, slavery would be entirely abolished throughout the territories of Great Britain. Was this no step gained? He would ask the hon. Gentleman, or the most sanguine of his supporters, whether four or five years ago they could have believed, in their fondest expectations, that it would be enacted by a British Parliament, that through the wide realms of the British empire, slavery should entirely cease on a certain day—that the term "slavery" should be blotted out, not only from our Statute Book, but out of all the colonial Statute Books; that it should be declared to be a condition of man which could not exist in law? He would ask, if any one had stated such expectations, whether they would not have been inclined to stigmatise it as a base deception? Yet the hon. Member seemed disposed to throw additional difficulties in the way of the settlement of a question already sufficiently embarrassing. He did not mean only the difficulties which arose from the conflicting interests which were concerned, but difficulties arising from political considerations—difficulties in legislating, in this country, upon a subject of such extent. With an imperfect knowledge of the state of society, they were about to effect a complete change in the entire population of districts so extensive, in climates so various, in countries so remote, and living under laws so different. They had all these difficulties to contend with, increased by the too sanguine expectations and desires of the friends of liberty on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the too vivid, and not unnatural apprehensions of the planters. Through all these difficulties they had brought the question to that state, that, in three weeks, if 1195 not checked by the hon. Gentleman, not only the Resolutions of the House, but an express Act would have declared, that the laws of Great Britain know not the name of slavery; that every man who lives under the British Crown is free. Did he ever state with regard to the details of the measure, and to the adaptation of the local laws to the new state of society—did he ever state that the concurrence of the Local Legislatures was not necessary? The hon. Member seemed to take his exceptions at random. He (Mr. Stanley) entertained for the hon. Member the most unfeigned respect; but he must ask, if the hon. Member could imagine it possible for that House to legislate properly for eighteen separate colonies, each having a different set of laws? If the House passed this Act in a spirit of defiance, the Local Legislatures would have a thousand opportunities not only not to assist, but to throw impediments in the way of the measure. If the matter were left entirely to the Local Legislatures, with the hope that they would themselves proceed to abolish slavery, the Parliament might reasonably doubt—it might fear—it might more than doubt and fear—nothing indeed could be more certain, than that the Colonial Legislatures would not take those steps which their own condition required; but when Parliament had once shown them that the step was inevitable—when it had pointed out to them the mode in which they were to proceed, and the manner in which the designs of Parliament should be carried into effect—when they were informed that it was the determination of Parliament to proceed with the measure in case of resistance, he was of opinion, that the matter might, in the first instance, be left in the hands of the local Legislatures, and that to them the filling up the details of the measure might advantageously be left. Would any Gentleman turn to the preamble of the 17th clause of the Bill, and look at the different circumstances which had to be considered in every different colony? He would then be able to tell whether it was possible at this late period of the Session, to legislate properly upon the subject. If the local Assemblies were convinced that it would be impossible for them to prevent the alteration, they would have the strongest reasons to make them co-operate with the views of Parliament. The Bill left it to the Colonial Legislatures to do that which the House could do if they did not do it. If the colonial Legislatures did not take measures 1196 for the abolition of slavery before August, 1834—if they did not pass laws similar to the provisions of the Bill—it would then come into operation, but he left it open to them to take these measures. If they adopted the recommendation of Parliament, they would have the full credit with the slaves and with the world of having abolished slavery by their own legislation. He hoped the hon. Member—he hoped that every man in this country, felt the importance of accomplishing the object of the Bill, provided it were accomplished in the most conciliatory manner to all parties—giving the slave absolute freedom at no distant period, leaving to the Colonial Legislatures, as far as could be done, the grace of passing that Act, and giving that compensation which, when the House had determined upon granting emancipation, he was sure the House would not refuse. In the next place he would refer to the question of apprenticeships, to which the hon. Member had more directly alluded. He had said, that this subject ought to be considered only with reference to the negro, and not to the master. He (Mr. Stanley) was of opinion that the apprenticeships were as necessary for the negro as they were for the master. The hon. Member had never himself advocated immediate emancipation, and in 1824 had distinctly said, that immediate emancipation would be no less ruinous to the slave than to the master. The hon. Member must allow him, therefore, to adhere to the opinion which the hon. Member had then advanced. He trusted that the House would sanction the apprenticeships as well as the compensation. He trusted that the House would be too just, not to say generous, to pass a Resolution depriving the planter of his property without granting him compensation. He did not shrink from avowing, that the plan of apprenticeships formed part of the payment which it was intended that the proprietor should receive. He was ready at the same time to admit, that when hon. Members assented to the principle of apprenticeships they did not bind themselves to the time that the apprenticeship should last. The principle had been asserted but the period of duration bad been left vague and undetermined. Any hon. Member, therefore, was perfectly competent and free to vote for shortening the term of the apprenticeship, provided he did not destroy or fritter away the principle. Government, (for he would consider the House of Commons and Government as separate) had brought forward a great and important 1197 question, net without, reference to the vast interest in this and other countries, which were concerned, in the decision of that question. He felt that he need not press it upon the House, that this question had become one entirely between the West India planters and this country, for slavery was already virtually extinct. Gentlemen had only to look to their own neighbourhoods. There was hardly an individual who was not, directly or indirectly, involved in the welfare and prosperity of the West Indies. There were two separate grounds upon which they calculated the amount of compensation. They had to pay down the value of the slave, the price of one-fourth of his labour for twelve years, and for the entire remission of all his labour after the expiration of the period of twelve years. The sum taken had reference to the rate of interest, and was consequently less than the value of the negroes, because it would be paid twelve years before the final extinction of slavery. In taking the value of the negroes, thirty millions was probably a fair valuation. Taking the number of slaves at 800,000, that sum would give an average of 37l. 10s. a-head. In the variety of particulars which had to enter into the calculation, it was impossible on such a subject to be perfectly accurate; but he would show that this was a tolerably near approximation. In the Commission for distributing the loan granted by this House to the West Indians, one of the objects mentioned was, to take evidence on oath with respect to the value of the slaves in the different islands. In the island of Jamaica, on twenty-four estates, containing 5,000 negroes, the average value of each was 40l. In Barbadoes, the average was, in one case, 38l.; but generally speaking, the average was between 40l. and 50l. on that island. In the five years, ending in 1830, the value, as ascertained by the books for the payment of the taxes, gave, upon 472 slaves sold in Jamaica, an average of 35l. 10s. In Trinidad, upon 331 slaves, the value averaged 36l. 15s. He made these statements only to show that his calculations could not be considered exorbitant. The average which he had taken would make thirty millions, which would have to be paid in twelve years; but it must be borne in mind, that the master lost one-fourth of the slave's time during these twelve years; and therefore it was not sufficient merely to pay down the value of the slave. He did not hesitate to say, that the system of apprenticeship 1198 formed part of the compensation by which the planter was to be indemnified. [Mr. Fryer: Why should we pay anything?] The hon. Member had asked a short and pithy question. He would tell him why the planter should be indemnified—because the principles of justice required that no man's properly should be taken away without compensation—because the laws of England forbade taking away a man's property without the consent of the owner; because, in this case, the property would be, taken away in the manner the most offensive; and, lastly, because, acting on the principles of justice, the House had declared, that emancipation and compensation should go together. The question was not about the principle of compensation, but about its amount. There was great difficulty in ascertaining what the amount should be, because the calculations depended upon a variety of considerations, and a small mistake in a minute particular would throw them all wrong. In the first place, they were taking one-fourth of the negro's labour from his master for twelve years, leaving him, at the same time, the whole charge of his maintenance, for three-fourths of his work. The expense of keeping 800,000 negroes, he thought, would not be overstated if he reckoned it at 2l. 10d. a-head; making thus 2,000,000l. a-year for twelve years. The amount would thus be swelled up to an enormous extent; and at least one-fourth of that ought to be saved by the master. The next consideration was the deduction which ought to be made for the sum to be paid, depending upon the rate of interest in consequence of the money being advanced immediately. If the rate were ten per cent, making allowance for the advances for the support of the slave, that would give 3,406,000l.; if eight per cent, 3,768,000l.; if six percent, 4,900,000l. If they were to take six per cent as the rate of interest, and to take his calculation of the value of the negroes at 37l. 10s. a-head, giving altogether 30,000,000l., the sum which they would have to pay would be 27,000,000l. as representing that which had been taken from the master. If they took the value of the slaves at 24,000,000l., and the interest of money at ten per cent, the sum to be paid would be 15,000,000l., allowing for the maintenance of the slave in the mean time. These were the strict grounds upon which they had proceeded, in order to compensate the planter for certain present losses and other prospective losses. He did not, therefore, hesitate to say, that 1199 the apprenticeships had been considered part of the compensation to be awarded; and that it was intended to give the planter the advantages for twelve years, arising from the beneficial employment of him who is no longer to be a slave, but to be placed immediately in a state of modified freedom. The hon. Member had asserted, that the negro would not work without some stimulus or another, whether by sufficient wages, or by personal coercion. The hon. Member blamed the present scheme, because it neither supplied the one nor the other. He, on the contrary, contended that it supplied both. It took away the capricious exercise of the master's au thority—it prevented vengeance; but it did not debar the master from exercising a summary jurisdiction over the slave, though it provided that the punishment should take place in cool blood, and before a Magistrate. He admitted that this would not be so effectual; but it would be better in other respects. He would ask the hon. Member, whether he knew, in this country, no instance of a man working without the impulse of either hope or fear? He wished to know how many apprentices there were here who laboured with no stimulus of hope or fear? [Mr. Fryer: There was a contract.] There was a contract, but it was not entered into with the consent of the apprentices. They were bound either by their parents, or, if they had none, by the parish officers. Like the slaves, or apprenticed labourers, as they were now to be, these had neither punishment nor wages; and it was rather an extraordinary position which had been taken by the hon. member for Weymouth, when he contended that it was necessary to flog men within an inch of their lives, or to give them ample wages, in order to induce them to work. Experience showed, that such was not the case; it was not borne out by the fact; and they ought to look, not to theories but realities. Looking at the question as prudent practical men, was not the House bound to see that the slave should not make that sudden and violent transition from slavery to freedom, which would ruin all who had embarked capital in the West Indies? Was it not better to sacrifice some of their abstract principles, rather than expose themselves to such consequences? They ought to be exceedingly cautious how they conducted an experiment, the magnitude of which had never been equalled. Let them see how the proprietors considered the question of apprenticeships. 1200 One and all declared, that if the negro did not give a certain portion of his labour, they must give up the cultivation of their estates; this country must sacrifice these once opulent colonies; a great number of their countrymen must be consigned to beggary and ruin; and the very means of supporting the negroes themselves must be taken away. It would be necessary for them to alter entirely the basis of society in these islands at once. For his part, he was not prepared to run such a risk; and he did not think it was for the benefit of the slave himself that such a risk should be run; it was not desirable that the negro should see the strong hand which weighed so heavy and so long upon him was at once removed. He had never denied that the slaves would be able to maintain themselves, except in such islands as were already in a complete state of occupation; but in the great majority of the islands, he did not doubt that the slaves would be able to maintain themselves and families in health, perhaps in comfort. Would they proceed to put a stop, as far as legislation could go, to the existing cultivation of these islands? Would they remove the whole capital that had been laid out in these colonies Would they throw away all the machinery which had been employed in the islands, and reduce it to that state in which the whole of the industry of the negro would be directed to the supply of but mere physical wants? As to the question of wages, or in other words, no wages, in nine cases out of ten they would not exist. He did not deny the statement of the hon. Member about the Hottentot settlement. He had instanced the absence of any complaints at the circuits, as a proof of the good conduct of those settlers; but that afforded very slight ground for congratulation; for he (Mr. "Stanley) doubted whether any circuit passed within 100 miles of it. From all accounts, however, which had reached him, nothing could be more peaceable and orderly than the conduct of those settlers: but that was not sufficient to prove, that the negroes in the West Indies would act in the same manner. Nor was it sufficient that they should merely be orderly and peaceable; it was necessary that sugar should be raised on those islands; it was necessary that they should continue to contribute to the wealth, and strength, and commercial prosperity, and maritime power, of this great empire. There was another point to which the hon. Gentleman had, 1201 also referred; he had stated, that the system of apprenticeship was framed in consequence of a part of the Bill which had now been abandoned. It was framed from a conviction of its necessity, both for the planter and the slave himself. The period of twelve years had been assumed with a view to the payment of the price of the slave by instalments of one-twelfth each; and the principle had remained unaltered. Considering that the mere maintenance of the negro, and the continuance of peace and good order, were not all that they had to look to in framing the Bill—conceiving the proposal, limiting the negro's apprenticeship to the shortest possible period which might be necessary, and then to assign him sufficient wages; and at the same time conceiving the: proposition of the hon. Member to be one which might mean anything or nothing,—he did not perceive what good effect could be anticipated from the Motion. What were they to consider as sufficient wages? Was it just enough to keep body and soul together? Would that be considered adequate? During the period of their apprenticeship, the master would be bound to keep the negro, to feed him, even to take care of him in sickness. Would they say that that was not adequate wages? or were they to fix them at the very maximum of what any labourer could get from any master, who, in the dearth of all other labour, would be compelled to comply with the most exorbitant demands? That was a state to which he was not prepared to come; it was a state of things which, if once introduced, would bring with it the ruin of these colonies—it would bring ruin on the slaves themselves. The next topic to which he had to advert was the fear which had been raised of an insurrection among the negroes. Now, from the bottom of his heart and soul, he acquitted the hon. Member of any intention of exciting the negro's mind by his speeches; he knew that the hon. Member would shrink with abhorrence from the idea, that anything which he might say or do should lead to the spilling of one drop of human blood. When he proceeded dealing out the hardest terms against a measure leading ultimately to the complete termination of slavery—leading to that which would establish complete equality of civil rights between men in every portion of the King's dominions; if slaves were taught by the expressions used in that House, which ought to go out in words and in truth, "that it is the 1202 opinion of persons so deservedly respected, and, that it is the opinion and declaration of a great and powerful party in this country, that they can see nothing in this measure but cruelty and injustice; that the slaves are mocked by it; that they are only about to have a heavier yoke imposed upon them, and that the natural consequence is to draw the negro into insurrection;"—if the negroes learnt that such language was used, would it not, he entreated the hon. Member to consider, be exceedingly likely to produce that very insurrection which he feared? Would it not direct the negro mind to that as his remedy? He entreated him to consider the measure with more favour—to exert himself rather to point out the real advantages and substantial benefits which it would be productive of, and to persuade the negroes to justify the confidence which the British people placed in them, and to prove by their industry, their labour, their bettering of their own condition during the interval of their apprenticeship, that they were worthy of the great boon which the justice and humanity of the British people was bestowing upon them at so great a sacrifice.
§ Mr. Macaulay
said, he rose with feelings of regret upon the present occasion. Though he had taken no part in the discussion upon this Bill, yet there was no one who had with more patience watched, or with greater anxiety attended to, the provisions of a measure, which he could not but consider to contain a great mixture of good and evil. He should now express his opinions upon this Bill in general, and particularly on those parts in which Amendments had been introduced, and to which the hon. Member (Mr. Fowell Buxton) had referred. He should discharge his duty, he was afraid, very imperfectly, and he would therefore entreat the House to extend to him that indulgence on the present occasion which he had experienced on former occasions when he had addressed it with less harassed feelings, and more confidence than at present. He had every disposition not only to do the amplest justice to his Majesty's Ministers, but to give them the greatest credit—them, with whom he generally acted—for having framed every part of this measure with the purest and most benevolent intentions, even those parts of which he could not approve. To those parts of which he disapproved, he was anxious to state his objection, but, previous to doing that, he most solemnly 1203 disclaimed any unfriendly feeling towards any class of persons whose interests might be concerned in the proposed measure, He hoped that he should be able to prove, that he was not, on the one hand, disposed to sacrifice principle to party, nor on the other, disposed to sacrifice the rights of the planters to popular clamour. Of the three objects which the Bill was intended to effect, the first had his fullest and most unqualified approbation—the abolition of slavery. He believed slavery to be the greatest of political evils; and when he thought of the horrid state of the slave, he sometimes felt ashamed of himself for the enthusiasm he had manifested in removing domestic grievances; such, for example, as the Catholic disabilities. They had seen guilt in many ages and in many countries; but where had they seen guilt in the hideous forms in which it had for so many years been exhibited in the West-India islands? Slavery there had been made to do the work of famine, of pestilence, and of war combined. It had accomplished more than they could accomplish, in putting an end to that disposition to increase and multiply which was manifested by the human race in every other part of the world. There had been fierce and prolonged wars in Europe, but population went on augmenting; and fresh life filled up the chasms caused by such fields as those of Leipzic, Borodino, and Waterloo. Ambition had done all it could to destroy; but it had been assisted by famine and pestilence; but the void which they created was speedily and completely filled up. The law of nature was not counteracted. As soon as the population became thinned by any powerful physical cause, early marriages increased, and the deficiency was soon supplied. In the West-India colonies alone was found a society in which the number of human beings was continually decreasing without the surviving labourers obtaining any advantages. In the West-India Colonies a state of society existed unparalleled in the history of the world. Fully believing in the necessity of demolishing slavery, he nevertheless thought, that his Majesty's Government had taken the right course in the Bill which his right hon. friend had introduced. The only fault which he found with that Bill was, that it had a leaning to mitigate an evil which ought to be demolished altogether. They had made attempts to mitigate slavery on former occasions. They had sent out to the negro a Church Establishment, while 1204 they left him to be bought and sold; but that mitigation was useless. The object of this Bill, he thanked God! was not a mitigation of that description; it attacked the foundation of the principle of slavery. Slavery was not a system which could be improved; it must be annihilated. Slavery was in itself the abuse. The principle of slavery, as Montesquieu had observed, was pure unmixed evil. Terror was the only motive that could operate upon the slave. Terror was the only mode by which the proprietor of the slave could hope to guard his own life or to save his wife and daughters from violation. If they abstracted terror from the system, the whole fabric of slavery was at once destroyed. The introduction of liberty was a new principle, not a mitigation of slavery. To mitigate slavery by introducing liberty, would be to take away the props without supplying pillars. When he heard persons say, that it would be madness immediately to put an end to slavery, and at the same time declare that it was frightful to continue its cruelties, it appeared to him as if they were the most inconsistent of men. He could not comprehend the mitigation of slavery. Its abolition would give the slave a motive for preserving the order by which he was to benefit. In this country where there were no slaves, where the lowest labourer was an intelligent being, we could afford to connive at the violence of a mob; we could laugh at Political Unions and speeches; even in cases of actual treason and rebellion we could punish the leaders and pardon their followers; but in such a country as the West Indies, to tell the masters to be merciful and moderate, was to tell them to submit to butchery. How was it possible that while they gave the negroes religious instruction, in order to educate them as men, they could continue to treat them as brutes? Of that part of the Bill, therefore, which abolished slavery, he cordially approved. There was another part of the Bill which he knew was most unpopular—he meant the Compensation Clause—to which, however, he gave his full consent. He regretted that, on this point, he felt it his duty to oppose those with whom he had generally had the happiness to act on this subject; but he was prepared to take his full share of whatever unpopularity might arise from this part of the Bill. He well knew, that there were in this country many excellent persons who detested the principle on which compensation to the planters was founded. It was 1205 not with those persons a question of money. They would be quite ready to give the twenty millions or thirty millions, or more, as charity, but they were strongly opposed to giving it as compensation. For his part, he held that the owners of the slaves had a distinct right to this compensation. He did not mean to say, that they had any right as against the slave; and if he had no alternative but to choose between the positions—that slavery should never be abolished, or that the planter should never be compensated, he should have no hesitation in deciding for the latter; for highly as he valued the rights of property, he could never put them in competition with the right of personal liberty. It had been most justly declared, that the property of man in his labour was the origin of all property, and ought to be held most sacred. Therefore, if there must be robbery at all, he would rather rob the planter of his property than the slave of his freedom. But to that alternative he was not reduced. With the question of compensation a slave had nothing to do. The State had solemnly sanctioned the property of the planter. The public faith had been pledged to its maintenance by proclamation, by treaty, by prescription. Could that House consent to violate it? He had heard that it was maintained that the planter ought to receive no compensation, because there ought to be no indemnity for the abandonment of crime. He protested against such a doctrine, as establishing principles that would be most extensively pernicious. He readily admitted, that no contract tending to crime was binding, and that to condemn men to slavery was criminal. If 100 Acts of Parliament had been passed to establish slavery, and if all the Members of that House had sworn at the Table to maintain slavery, slavery ought nevertheless to be abolished. But that was not the question to be considered. When crime entered into a contract between two parties equally criminal, it could not prevent the execution of the contract as it respected them. If the choice were solely between violating the public faith, or putting an end to slavery, which was a violation of the law of nature, it would be a very different matter; but here there was an alternative; and where there was that alternative, the violation of public faith would be subversive of all public and private morality. He was sorry to detain the House; but the principle was of so much consequence, 1206 not only at the present time, but with reference to the future, that he could not refrain from making a few further observations upon it. If they were to violate the public faith pledged to the West-India planter, they would establish a precedent of a most monstrous and injurious character. To illustrate this position, he would take an instance from the commonest life: suppose a Catholic gentleman had ordered an image for the decoration of his chapel to be sculptured by a first-rate artist, and that when, after immense skill and labour, the image was finished, he should say to the artist, "Take it back; since I ordered it my mind has been enlightened; I now believe that the Protestant is the true religion. I therefore consider the contract between you and me as sinful, and I cannot consent to perform my part of it. Would not the argument that would justly he used be: "If you are enlightened, so much the better; but you must pay for the contract into which you entered when you were in a state of darkness?" Or suppose a Mahometan, having three or four wives in his Harem, were to embrace Christianity, would he be entitled to break his contract with them, turn them all out into the world, and leave them to starve? Or, in the case of a lottery, which, as all gaming was vicious, ought never to be resorted to by a Government, would it not be the height of enormity, if, after all the tickets had been sold, Government were to declare that it had become sensible of its error, and were to leave the purchasers to digest their loss? Nay, if once such a doctrine as that which he was contravening were established, almost the whole of the public debt of this country ought to be wiped away; for he held that there was no national crime greater than to engage in wanton and unjustifiable wars; and the greater part of that debt was incurred in the prosecution of such wars. For instance, during the American war we had borrowed 100 millions. The prosecution of that war was as wicked an act as the maintenance of slavery. What difference was there between keeping one set of men in a state of severe and unmerited bondage, and carrying tire and sword among another set of men who merely asserted then-rights? If it was unjust to compel the slave to labour throughout life for his master, was it not unjust to spend money in sending the sabre of the Hessian, or the tomahawk of the Indian, into the fields of a people who were only struggling for 1207 liberty? If, therefore, the principle against which he was contending were established, those who admitted it would be at a loss to make out how the claims of almost any public creditor could be considered as valid. He repeated, therefore, that he was decidedly favourable to two of the principles of the Bill; the Abolition of Slavery, and the Compensation to the Planter. But as to the third principle of this Bill, which related to the transition state of the negro, before the total cessation of his slavery, he confessed that he entertained great, and in some respects, he feared, insurmountable doubts. There could be no question that it was the solemn duty of Parliament to do all they could to protect the planter; but he had great doubts if the provision in question would have that effect. If it could be proved, that what they were about to do was calculated to improve the morality of the slave, and thereby enable him, when he became wholly free, better to discharge the duties of a citizen, he should assent to it. He should not refuse to assent to it because it was severe, provided it could be shown that that severity was likely to be efficacious. What he objected to was this, that the restraints laid on the negro by the Bill were not so laid with the sole view of improving his moral character. His right hon. friend had, with perfect candour, admitted that. The ninth clause of the Bill contained a provision that it should be lawful for the slave at any time to purchase his freedom on the payment of a value legally fixed. Now that clause admitted a principle in which he could not acquiesce; namely, that the planters had a right to compensation from their slaves. The planters and the State had been accomplices in a crime, and it would be exceedingly hard and unjust to throw the burthen of retribution on one party; but it would be still more hard and unjust to lay any portion of it on the third and injured party. By this clause a negro who was fit for all the duties of civil life, might still be kept in slavery. Why was he to give this money to his master? If the clause had provided, that when the slave had laid up a certain sum in the Savings' Bank he should become free, that would have been a fair proposition; but when they compelled him to pay it to the master, they compelled him to pay the price of a right—a principle—the justice of which he (Mr. Macaulay) could never admit. A man who had laid up 10l. was not rendered more or less fit for freedom by giving that money to his master, or by 1208 keeping it in his own chest. He denied the right of the State to demand any sacrifice whatever from the injured party. He would now say a few words with respect to the restraints which were imposed on slaves who were artizans, artificers, coopers, &c, or who, in the words of his right hon. friend, were non-predial. Even many of those who denied that the slaves engaged in agriculture were fit for freedom, admitted that the non-predial slaves were perfectly fit for freedom; and he was convinced that they might be instantly set free from all restraints, without any danger whatever to society. If so, it was impossible to justify the infliction upon them of a seven years' apprenticeship. With respect to the other class of slaves, who, it might be said, stood more in need of a transition state, he was apprehensive that the twelve years apprenticeship would be found a had and inefficient mode of training them for freedom. There had been no practical experience on this matter. Indeed, they might as well talk of practical experience of a nation of Amazons. There had been no example of such apprenticeships. He must say, however, that he thought the argument on the subject of his hon. friend, the member for Weymouth, very convincing; and that he did not think that his right hon. friend had met that argument in so direct a manner as was usual with him. Agricultural labour in the West-Indies was a most painful drudgery. The labourer, therefore, ought to have a strong motive for exertion. He was at a loss, however, to understand what that motive was to be. Even in this country, agricultural apprentices were not taken without a premium, and he understood that the great body of apprentices did not, for a considerable time earn their own living. But what was to be the motive of the West-India apprentice to exert himself?—The Magistrate. It was he who was to superintend all the operations of society in the colonies. Every day in the week, and every hour in the day, whenever the master became harsh, or the slave became indolent, there was to be no recourse but to the Magistrate. It must be recollected, that in the colonies the negro and the master would always have opposite interests, and that those interests could not be reconciled by law. In this country it was quite different. Here a master had the choice of labourers, and a labourer the choice of masters; but in slavery it had always been found necessary to give despotic power to the master. By this Bill it was 1209 left to the Magistrate to keep the peace between the master and the slave. Every time that the slave took twenty minutes, to do that which the master thought he might have done in fifteen, recourse must be had to the Magistrate. Society day and night would be in a constant state of litigation, and all differences and difficulties were to be met by judicial interference. He did not entertain the apprehensions expressed by his hon. friend, the member for Weymouth, that such a state of things would lead to gross cruelty. It would, in his opinion, be merely a state of dead slavery, a state destitute of any vital principle. He did not see reason to apprehend any cruelty; for what motive could the stipendiary Magistrate have for hostility towards the slaves? The contrary would, he thought, be the case. The Magistrates would be accountable to the Colonial Office; the Colonial Office to the House of Commons, in which every whipping would, no doubt, be told. The object of the Magistrate, therefore, would be to be as lenient as possible. His apprehension was, that the result of continuing this state of society for twelve years would be, that the whole negro population would become inactive, would sink into weak and dawdling inefficiency, and would be much less fit for liberty at the end of the period than at its commencement. His hope was, that the system would die a natural death; that a few months experience would establish its utter inefficiency, so as to induce the planters to abandon it, and to substitute a state of freedom. In his opinion, however, it would be much better, that that should be done by parliamentary enactment, rather than that it should be left to the Colonial Authorities. He had voted for the second reading of the Bill, and he should vote for the third reading of it; but while it was in the Committee, he would join with other hon. Members in doing all that was possible to amend those points of the Bill to which he objected. He was aware how freely he had stated his opinions on this important question; but he was sure that the House would do justice to his motives, which, amidst conflicting feelings and opinions, prompted him honestly to endeavour to perform his duty.
§ Lord Sandon
said, that unless the House were disposed to inflict artificial sterility on the colonies, or unless it could devise some stronger stimulus of labour, they must adopt the combined system of coercion and stimulus which the right hon. Gentleman's 1210 Bill presented. He was convinced that the stimulus in the Bill would act powerfully, and that the hope of liberation at an early period would induce the negro to exert himself for that purpose. But even if it were to be found as inefficient as the hon. member for Leeds apprehended it would be, there could be no reason to doubt that the planter would have recourse to the adoption of a system of wages. He knew it was the intention of a large proportion of the planters to do this, and he was convinced, that it would be much better to leave that matter to be adjusted by the Legislature of each colony, rather than to attempt to adjust it here. It was also of considerable importance to remember that this Bill was the result of an understanding, if not of a solemn compact, which had been sent out to the colonies for their adoption. It would be a great evil, if the slightest suspicion were induced of the good faith of Parliament, or of its disposition to perform its engagements. When so great a change was proposed in a social system, the feeling of the parties should be consulted, at the same time that it was made their interest to carry the object in view into effect. On the question of emancipation, he would state to the House an opinion in favour of compensation—not of planters themselves, but of a publication which the planters considered as hostile to their interests. He meant The Christian Record, printed in Jamaica. The noble Lord concluded by reading a passage which was in favour of compensation.
§ Lord Howick
thought, that his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley) had not met the objections of his hon. friend (Mr. Fowell Buxton) against the apprenticeship portion of the present plan. That plan was neither compulsion nor freedom, but a mixture of both, which would be totally inefficient in the colonies. There was a feeling in the negro mind that Ministers proposed already by this apprenticeship scheme merely to perpetuate the evils of slavery. The taunts of his right hon. friend against the hon. member for Weymouth—of his having by his "blind, obstinate, and imprudent" conduct encouraged, and actually occasioned insurrection in the colonies—came with a particularly ill grace from one against whom so many similar taunts had been urged by the opponents of the Catholic Bill—that his "imprudent "prophecies of the dangers of delaying that measure tended to engender the ills they predicted. If his right hon. friend would permit the negro to take his 1211 labour to any market he pleased—that is, to take advantage of the highest wages given—he would consent to the apprenticeship system being adopted, but not till then.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the question really before the House was whether it was right and fitting that an adult negro born in slavery, and surrounded by the circumstances which attended that condition in the colonies, should be all at once admitted to a state of perfect freedom; and whether, if that question were answered in the negative, the state of apprenticeship for a definite period, within which the slave might purchase his freedom, was not a state of probation advantageous to the negro himself, and not injurious to his master? He maintained the negative of the former, and the affirmative of the latter proposition. His hon. friend (Mr. Macaulay) asserted, that they should consider the question solely in reference to the benefit of the negro (regard being had to the planter's just claims to compensation); but surely it was not impossible to consider at the same time whether the preparation for a state of unrestricted freedom might not also be made advantageous to the master. And this double benefit the apprenticeship scheme went to effect. The circumstance to which the hon. Member so much objected—namely, the necessity of the negro's accumulating 10l. to be paid to the master as the price of his freedom, would have a very salutary effect in inducing habits of industry, economy, prudence, and dependence on the fruits of his own labour, while it would evidently be also advantageous to the master. The hon. member for Weymouth was wrong in stating that this apprenticeship provision was wanting in the two great motives to labour—wages and compulsion—that is the fear of punishment, and therefore would fail. He differed from the hon. Member, and maintained that it embraced both classes of motives, though it was true the punishment was divested of its present severity, and the wages would not be equal to those of freedom. The wages would, however, be sufficient to teach the negro the advantages of industry, by making freedom the reward of his labour; and the punishment would be sufficient to prevent obstinate idleness. It had been said, that the result of the apprenticeship, after all, would be that of confirming the negro in habits of incorrigible idleness, and, therefore, unfitting him for a state of freedom. But surely if wages would insure industry, as the hon. member for Weymouth, and 1212 his noble friend (Lord Howick) alleged, the scheme which provided wages could not fail; besides there was nothing to prevent the master from giving higher wages in proportion to the industry of the apprentice. His noble friend said, that the apprenticeship would be neither more nor less than a prolonging the wrongful state of slavery. He thought quite otherwise. It was his all but conviction that the result of the present Bill would be, that slavery would die out in the colonies long before the period fixed by it. And it was his conviction that the transition state of apprenticeship was necessary to prevent the negro from relapsing into all but hopeless barbarism.
Mr. O' Connell
said, he would not trouble the House at any length, but the speech of the noble Lord (Lord Althorp) was so extraordinary, and so far from embracing that principle of Reform which it professed, that he (Mr. O'Connell) should feel it his duty to touch upon some of the arguments (if they could be so called) of the noble Lord. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) who introduced the measure into that House, did so with all the tact, ingenuity, and eloquence, which he was famed for. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman declared that slavery should be abolished, but at the same time he perpetuated it under the designation of an apprenticeship. On that occasion he made a speech for the slave, and to-night the same right hon. Gentleman made one for the planter. The people of this country, however, were not expected to pay for things twice over. It was proposed by this Bill to pay the planter 20,000,000l. sterling. Was it not an act of great injustice, therefore, to give the labour of the poor negro beside, thus paying twice over? But he (Mr. O'Connell) should be glad to know from whom the said sum of 20,000,000l. was to come? Certainly not from the planters, for they were to receive it. Was England to pay it, if so from what source? The House had heard of the humanity of this measure, which compelled the poor defenceless negro to become an apprentice, and give his labour for the remainder of his life, thus perpetuating that slavery which this Bill, on being first introduced, professed to abolish. Were the people to be called upon to perpetuate that most repulsive and demoralizing crime, at an expense of 20,000,000l.? Had the planters ever tried the effect of free labour? Was there any proof that such a course was not likely to be attended with the best results? 1213 He would suppose the planter had a right to charge us with 20,000,000l. as compensation. Would that force the slave to labour more freely? Most certainly not; and yet the House cheered the right hon. Member when he touched upon that topic. The poor negro was to be called upon to give his twelve years of labour, which added to his former sufferings, was by no means an inducement to free labour. He would ask of the hon. Members where was the vaunting boast of the abolition of slavery in the colonies, while it was proposed to send out Magistrates who were to supersede the driver as at present? He supposed he should be justified in calling those flogging magistrates, who to the number of 100 were to go to the colonies. Yet they would call that freedom. They were to make the poor negroes, to be sure, apprentices, giving a life interest of twelve years' labour for the benefit of the planter, and during that period they were to be at the tender mercy of the flogging magistrate. In this country, nine years was the average of a life interest, but in a tropical climate, it was impossible it could be taken at so long a period. Therefore, the humanity of this measure went to compel a man for the period of his life (for it could be considered in no other light) to work for the planter, thus paying him not only 20,000,000l. in money, but also in labour. So that the planter required payment in two ways. Was that just, was that humane, which sought to compel the poor but industrious negro to drag on his miserable twelve years of existence, if he lived so long, toiling for six days in every week, for that period, with only one consolation, that of being permitted to rest from labour on a Sunday, when he might attend some house of worship? He should be sorry to attack the honesty of the intentions of those who brought forward this Bill, which, while it went to vote away 20,000,000l. of money from the pockets of the people of this country, sought to perpetuate the detestable and odious crime of negro slavery. He was anxious to control his feelings, and would do so. But to those who brought forward this measure, and were ready to give it their support, he would say, if they did not, like Shylock, demand the pound of human flesh, they demanded the twelve years additional slavery from the poor negro under the pretence of friendship. Was that what the negro expected? Was that what the country so long sought for and expected, when the question of negro slavery 1214 was to be brought before the House? The country he (Mr. O'Connell) could assure the House sought for the total and unconditional abolition of slavery, and with less the country would not be satisfied.
§ Mr. Bernal
expressed his apprehensions that the plan of the Government would not be found to answer the expectations of those who proposed it. He feared, too, that, in the mean time, much restlessness would be excited among the negro population of the colonies. This would be the case in Jamaica, when the Resolutions were communicated to the negroes in that Island. Some might, perhaps, be content to remain in the state in which they were now, but others, he feared, would be in a hurry to avail themselves of the real or supposed advantages of this measure. It would be a difficult thing to restrain men under such a state of circumstances. The irritation and excitement which now existed among them would increase, and that would not be likely to induce men in authority there to look with favour on this measure. The part of the Bill which went to displace the present Magistrates, and to put in their stead stipendiary Magistrates, would produce, among that class of persons, feelings by no means favourable to the Bill, nor likely to promote the public peace. He wished that the Government had confined the measure to declaring the principle of compensation, and that they had then left the rest to the local Legislatures. It would have been better, in his opinion, to leave it to the experience of the Legislatures in the different Islands to work out the principle of the measure. No man, however well skilled in legislation, could, at the distance of 4,000 miles, chalk out with certainty and precision the means by which such a mighty change could be best carried into effect. All the Islands differed from each other, and it required a particular knowledge of each to adapt the measure to its peculiar circumstances. As to the stipendiary Magistrates, for instance, he was convinced that not fifty, but 200 would be required to carry the plan into effect in Jamaica. Some of the parishes were there sixteen miles distant from each other; and it would be a great inconvenience to go from one Magistrate to another when the presence of more than one was required on any particular occasion. This was one of the difficulties, too many of which would be found in the Bill. He had done as much as he could to forward the views of the Government—he had sent out the Resolutions 1215 of that House, and had urged them to receive those Resolutions, as it became them to receive the Resolutions of that House of Parliament, and not to allow any feeling of excitement to lead them away. He had never been an advocate for slavery, and it was too late now to contend that it could last ten years longer, and he had said so in the communications he had sent out to Jamaica. He believed others had done the same. It was possible, however, that, in the intervening period, the negro might betray great restlessness in his situation. Letters had been received in town from the colony of St. Vincent, stating that a degree of restlessness had been already exhibited there. They had had some intimation there of what was passing here, and the negroes already began to speculate on having white wives, and keeping their gigs and horses. In Barbadoes the same degree of restlessness had been exhibited, but from another cause. The negroes there were afraid that their master would desert them. In that feeling, many might prefer to remain under the old regime, in that and other colonies; and he did not wonder at it, for there had not been a case of cruelty in Jamaica where the party committing it had not been held in execration. He had even known cases where a strong suspicion that a man had been guilty of cruelty, had occasioned him to be sent to Coventry; and in some instances a charge of that kind had excluded him from society. To return to the difficulties attending the execution of this Bill. Suppose the negroes refused to work when in their state of apprenticeship, how were they to be compelled to do so? Not by imprisonment, surely, for that would put an end to the cultivation of the estate. The Code Rural at Hayti, the existence of which was at first thought impossible in this country, was more severe than the regulations by which the slaves were now governed; and he found that they must have a code of a most severe kind. That was a matter worthy of the most serious attention; for merely to say, that the work of emancipation was done on the passing of that Bill, as if it were a Highway Bill or a Turnpike Trust, was to him perfectly absurd. If the matter had been left to the Colonial Legislatures to carry into effect, their knowledge and their self-interest would have gone together in the work. His negroes, he believed, would have but little advantage in the change. They were now happy and comfortable—nothing proper was refused them—and in sickness they were taken 1216 care of. If their number had at any time decreased, he could assure the House that the produce of the estate on which that happened had decreased in the same proportion. When the hon. member for Weymouth alluded, as he frequently had done, to the painful subject of the decrease of the negro population, he was always anxious to tell that hon. Member that such decrease most materially injured the master. He could only say, with reference to himself, that he had always endeavoured to the utmost of his power to prevent such an event upon his estates. In Jamaica there were many black slaves who enjoyed themselves, and had the means of procuring not only the necessaries, but the luxuries of life. The vegetable markets, the poultry market, and the shipping on the coast were uniformly supplied by the negroes. He knew the argument that might be raised on this fact. It would be said, that the negroes would require no coercion, but would labour of their own accord. But the fact was, that it required very little labour to give them the advantages he had mentioned. With the labour of six hours a-week, a man might support himself and his family. But then it would be said, that the negro did not enjoy his liberty, and that, without these, luxuries were nothing. What were the ideas of the negro with regard to liberty? They were these: the slightest possible degree of labour. He believed that was the idea of men all over the world. No man would work but from the compulsion of necessity—the fear of starvation. The Irish agricultural labourer worked only from that motive, and the peasant who in England laboured for 10s. a-week to support his wife and family did the same. A large body of what he might call the peasantry of the colonies now possessed the luxuries of life. Let the House take care that they did not hazard the well-being, the comforts, and the essential happiness, of that body of persons. He was ready to confess that the moral and religious education of the negroes had not been sufficiently attended to—attempts had lately been made to correct that evil; but he observed no provision in this Bill on that subject. Nor did he see any as to the creation of a police force. Yet such a force would be necessary. He repeated, that the mode the most likely to carry into effect with success the provisions of this Bill, would have been to declare the principles of abolition of slavery and of compensation, and to leave it to the local Legislatures to carry those principles 1217 into effect. He feared that their not having done this would be the occasion of much difficulty and inconvenience.
§ Mr. Fowell Buxton
trusted to the indulgence of the House for permission to say a very few words in reply to, perhaps, the severest charge that could be brought against any individual—he alluded to that which fell from his right hon. friend. It was a charge very galling; because if there was any one thing which he would not do, it was stirring up to insurrection the negroes of the colonies. The colonists had attributed to him a desire of that description; but God forbid that he should entertain it, or act with any one who did. He felt it his duty, however, to advert to that charge. And let him ask the first man who had ever talked in that House of insurrection in the colonies, was the idea a new one? Had it been breathed from his lips for the first time? The House must recollect that for the last twelve months it had been spoken of, if not as a matter of course, at least as a thing of very probable occurrence. It had been talked of by the colonists themselves; who in that period, also, had gravely spoken of transferring their allegiance from the Crown of Great Britain to the Republic of the United States.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, that he had not made any charge against the hon. Member, nor attributed to him any desire of promoting insurrection. He believed the hon. Member incapable of a wish to do so. What he said, was, that the hon. Member's observations were not likely to produce a happy effect on the minds of the negroes, and that he the more regretted this, as, whatever fell from the hon. Member was attended with so much weight on account of his high character.
§ Mr. Fowell Buxton
would not utter another word upon a point upon which he certainly felt most deeply, but which the right hon. Gentleman had satisfactorily explained. The right hon. Gentleman had done him the honour to say, that the language that he held towards the negroes might have some influence upon them. If he thought that such were the case, if, indeed, the faintest echo of his voice could ever reach them—most earnestly, most emphatically, would he implore them, by every motive of duty, gratitude, and self-interest, to do their part towards the peaceful termination of their bondage. He would say to them, "The time of your deliverance is at hand;—let that period be sacred—let it be 1218 defiled by no outrage—let it be stained by no blood. Let not the hair of the head of a single planter be touched. Make any sacrifice—bear any indignity—submit to any privation, rather than raise your hand against any white man;—continue to wait and to work patiently—trust implicitly to that great nation and paternal Government who are labouring for your release. Preserve peace and order to the utmost of your power—obey the laws, both before and at the time of your liberation;—and, when that, period shall arrive, fulfil the expectations of your friends in England, and the promises they have made in your name, by the most orderly, diligent, and dutiful conduct." If they should do all that—if they should assist in the anxious task of a peaceful emancipation—if they should resist every temptation to impatience, disturbance, or idleness—if they should realize the predictions of their friends, and confute the forebodings of those who had been opposed to their emancipation—if they should show by their conduct, that they were not the brutes which they had been supposed to be, but human beings, capable of being influenced by the same motives as the rest of mankind—then they would have fulfilled the most ardent wishes of their friends; they would have made a full return for the efforts in their behalf; they would have secured their own and their children's welfare; and they would be the greatest benefactors to the myriads of their race, who remained in bondage under other nations. The fate of 5,000,000 of slaves would mainly depend on the issue of this great experiment. That consideration added double force to the earnestness with which he would plead with the slaves, the planters, England, and her Government, each and all, to lay aside their feelings of excitement, to bury former dissensions in oblivion, and to bend all their strength to effect this mighty Reformation in peace, in safety, and with benefit to the slave, to the master, and to the nation. He thought there was a misapprehension in the minds of some hon. Gentlemen, that his Motion was against apprenticeship altogether. It was worded for the purpose of showing that apprenticeship was not necessary, and ought not to constitute any part of the compensation to be given to the planter.
§ The House divided on the original Motion: Ayes 158; Noes 151—Majority 7.
§ The House went into Committee, pro formâ. Resumed—Committee to sit again.
|List of the NOES.|
|ENGLAND.||Knatchbull, Sir E.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Langdale, Hon. C.|
|Attwood, T.||Langton, Colonel G.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Leech, J.|
|Barnett, C. J.||Lester, B. L.|
|Bewes, T.||Lister, E. C.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Locke, W.|
|Biddulph, R.||Lushington, Dr.|
|Blake, Sir F.||Macaulay, T. B.|
|Brigstock, W. P.||Madocks, J.|
|Briggs, R.||Marjoribanks, S.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Marsland, T.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Marshall, J.|
|Brodie, W. B.||Mills, J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Brougham, J.||Ord, W. H.|
|Buckingham, J. S.||Palmer, General|
|Byng, Sir J.||Parrott, J.|
|Calley, T.||Pease, J.|
|Cayley, Sir G.||Penleaze, J. S.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Phillips, Sir R.|
|Chandos, Marquess of||Philips, M.|
|Chichester, J. P. B.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Collier, I.||Poulter, J.|
|Cookes, T. H.||Martin, J.|
|Cornish, J.||Methuen, P.|
|Darlington, Earl of||Richards, J.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Rickford, W.|
|Dawson, E.||Rider, T.|
|Dundas, Captain||Rippon, C.|
|Dykes, F. L. B.||Romilly, J.|
|Edwards, Colonel||Rooper, J. B.|
|Ellis, W.||Russell, C.|
|Etwall, M.||Russell, W. C.|
|Evans, W.||Scholefield, J.|
|Evans, Colonel||Scrope, P.|
|Ewart, W.||Seale, Colonel|
|Faithfull, G.||Shawe, R. N.|
|Fancourt, Major||Shepherd, T.|
|Fenton, Captain||Staunton, Sir G. T.|
|Fenton, J.||Staveley, J. K.|
|Feilden, W.||Strickland, G.|
|Fielden, J.||Tayleur, W.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.||Tennyson, Rt. Hon. C.|
|Gaskell, D.||Thicknesse, R.|
|Gisborne, T.||Thompson, Alderman|
|Goring, H. D.||Throckmorton, R.|
|Grey, Sir G.||Todd, R.|
|Gully, J.||Tooke, W.|
|Halcombe, J.||Torrens, Colonel|
|Hall, B.||Townley, R. G.|
|Halse, J.||Townshend, Lord C.|
|Handley, B.||Tracy, C. H.|
|Handley, H.||Trelawney, W. L. S.|
|Handley, W. F.||Tullamore, Lord|
|Hardy, J.||Turner, W.|
|Harland, W. C.||Tynte, K.|
|Hawkins, M. I.||Tyrell, C.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Howard, Hon. F. G.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Hudson, T.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Hutt, W.||Wason, R.|
|Ingham, R.||Watkins, J. L.|
|Ingilby, Sir W.||Wedgwood, J.|
|Jerningham, Hon. H.||Wilks, J.|
|Williams, Colonel||Jephson, C. D. O.|
|Wilmot, Sir J. E.||Martin, J.|
|Winnington, Sir T.||Meynell, Captain|
|Winnington, Captain||Mullins, F. W.|
|Yelverton, W. H.||O'Connell, D.|
|Gillon, W. D.||O'Connell, J.|
|Johnston, A.||O'Dwyer, A. C.|
|Sinclair, G.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Stewart, R.||Ruthven, E.|
|Barry, G. S.||Buxton, F.|
|Blake, M.||Howick, Viscount|
|Berkeley, C.||Fryer, R.|
|Bulwer, H. L.||Hawes, B.|
|Fleming, Admiral||Roebuck, J. A.|